Exclusive: Debbie Wanner talks 'Survivor: Game Changers' and relationship with Brad Culpepper
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 05/02/2017
Debbie Wanner was eliminated from Survivor: Game Changers' merged Maku Maku tribe during the latest episode of Season 34 on CBS.
The Maku Maku tribe sent Debbie, a 51-year-old from Reading, PA, packing at Tribal Council on Night 26 with 6 out of 11 votes because Sarah Lacina, a 32-year-old from Marion, IA, made a big move and flipped on the tribe's majority alliance in order to escape being on the bottom.
Debbie -- who previously competed on Survivor: Kaoh Rong -- Brains vs. Brawn vs. Beauty and finished in ninth place -- voted to oust Andrea Boehlke from Survivor: Game Changers with her five allies.
During an exclusive interview with Reality TV World on Thursday, Debbie talked about her Survivor experience. Below is the concluding portion of the interview.
Reality TV World: Aubry Bracco was pretty livid when you were talking to her about the vote. She thought you were being cocky and even chucked the middle finger at you. What was your reaction to that gesture? Did you just laugh it off?
Debbie Wanner: Yeah, you know, I'm a good sport. I'm self-deprecating and usually the first one to say, "Hey, somebody give me a Snickers bar," and, "Whoa, wow, is that overacting, overreacting? What a bunch of hyperbole!"
But I know that I've got a good relationship with Aubry outside of the game. And again, would she say, "Hey, sorry I did that," well, she probably would. Do I know there's things that I would say to people, "Hey, sorry I did that," well, yes, of course.
Reality TV World: Hali Ford told me that she thought you actually had a pre-game alliance with Brad Culpepper. Could you confirm that? What was the extent of your conversations with Brad prior to the game?
Debbie Wanner: I did not have a pre-game alliance with Brad. What I had was a deep respect and admiration for Mrs. Monica Culpepper. Being "an old woman" going into the game, I loved Monica because, you know, they call you the goat, they call you -- You know, "Oh, I can take her and make her into the human kite" -- weak at challenges.
Monica made it to the end and I don't think anybody carried her along in spite of what they say, and I loved the way she handled herself. I would have snapped at those people grilling me the way they grilled Monica Culpepper at the end.
"Oh, Monica, we don't know you! Who's the real you?" That was the real her and they just didn't accept that was the real her. She could not crack under all that pressure. So, No. 1, I liked Brad because of his wife, whom I very much respect and I'd be happy to meet.
No. 2, I always thought that Brad got a raw deal when he played and [Candice Cody] was always after him. I just didn't see the rotten, horrible callous Brad Culpepper that other people saw. I saw a hard working guy who busts his butt and was a physical beast.
And, yes, I did want to be aligned with him and said it in my opening interviews. So, if that was a pre-game alliance, then I had one, because it was in my head that I liked Brad. That was just my vibe with him. So, if that makes it a pre-game alliance, then yes, guilty.
Reality TV World: You orchestrated Ozzy Lusth's vote off, but it seemed to come out of left field. Why did you want him gone? Was it just because you wanted to take full credit for making a big move? And is it safe to say you regret using your extra-vote advantage at that particular Tribal Council?
Debbie Wanner: When the debacle went down with [Jeff Varner] and [Zeke Smith], what's often forgotten is Varner said, "Ozzy is in an alliance with Andrea and Zeke" -- information to be filed in my head. Ozzy and I go for a long walk and I say, "Ozzy, let's put our cards on the table. Whom do you want gone?"
He said, "Brad, No. 1. [Sierra Dawn Thomas], No. 2." Well, Beth, they are my No. 1 and 2 people! So, yup, I'm disingenuous with Ozzy. I go back and of course I immediately tell Brad and Sierra. There was never any huge riff between Brad and I. That was bad overacting and, you know, somebody just give me a Snickers bar!
But Ozzy was after Brad. [Tai Trang] wanted Ozzy out because of the strenuous pole [Immunity] Challenge. So it appears Sierra and I are in there and we're popping Ozzy's name out of the blue. But we had been talking for quite some time back and forth between a couple of people, and my alliance wanted Ozzy out.
So, do I take any credit? Did I want to make a big move? No. I took no joy in taking Ozzy out. I like him! Ozzy is an Epicurean wine connoisseur, a food aficionado. There's a lot of reasons to want Ozzy around, however, he was a huge threat to my two core alliance members, Tai and Brad. And that's why he left. It was a group decision.